Negropontism: A CM1 to 2B1 Backstory


Let's say you are Nicholas Negroponte and back in 1997 you have a grand visionto unite the world's children in a global digital network that enriches both the children themselves, and when provided with appropriate computing technology and connectivity, and the adult world too.


Then your son Dimitri Negroponte dreams up 2B1 Foundation and you find $1 million in seed funding from two Japanese benefactors to bring the digital world to kids in the developing world. During the first 2B1 conference, inviting 200 "have-not" educators from Third World, in a curious preface Dimitri explains why you've invited educators and not bureaucrats

"We're trying to bypass the politicians"
Unfortunately, right after the conference, before you could really enjoy working with your son, you have to ice the foundation as Dimitri flies the coop:
Shortly after the Summit, I started a computer animation company in Milan with three people. Its two-year history ran into the bursting tech bubble and was unable to attain late-stage funding.
Back in your orbit, you send him off to your newest venture, MIT India, where he was an employee of 2B1 through the MIT Media Lab. When MIT Media Lab India flames out, off you send Dimitri to Cambodia.


There he established two Internet-connected schools in villages without electricity. One villages didn't even have a road and the laptops they took home were the brightest light source in their houses.

When he tried to re-enter the high-tech world after his Cambodian adventure, Dimitri was in for a rude shock. To quote him:

I realized at this time that in the computer world one’s skills can quickly become obsolete and decided to return to the US to pursue a second Master’s degree in Professor Red Burns Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. I will complete this course by the end of May.
Now with yet another degree, Dimitri is looking for work. What might you, as a proud father do? Why not reunite your vision with your son's? Or to quote the August 5th OLPC community newsletter:
The 2B1 Foundation was re-launched this week. The name (conceived by Dimitri Negroponte about ten years ago) was used for a New York State 501(c)3 that was active until about 1999. Seymour Papert, Nicholas Negroponte and Dimitri were involved until it went dormant, serving only as a private foundation and modest venue to fund Cambodian Schools.

In its new form, technically called 2B1 Worldwide, it will be a Delaware public foundation, initially headed by Ashton Hawkins, based in New York City. It will become the entity to which charitable deductions, large and small, can be made.

While you are at it, why not make sure there is no confusion about which way the project is going too? When the press latches onto a wiki post by your President of Software and Content for OLPC, and breaks the news that the One Laptop Per Child computer would be called the "Children's Machine 1", make him backpedal to VnuNet:
"The Children's Machine (CM1) is our internal working name for the laptop and one that will likely be used throughout the B-Test period, [says Walter Bender.] While we haven't settled on a final launch name, it is likely to be the 2B1"
And what would you call that force of vision, that power of persuasion, that father-son interaction that can incubate an idea over a decade and re-brand it constantly in your image?

Why Negropontism of course!

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